Space.

With all the problems we have in our own country, the United States doesn’t seem as excited about space exploration as we were when I was kid, or even when the Space Shuttle Program was running. I am thoroughly fascinated by it and I follow many astronauts on Twitter and read up on the International Space Station when I have a few moments.

One of the best vacations Earl and I had together was when we visited the Space Center in Houston. I’ve been watching tours of the International Space Station ever since, here’s one from 2016.

I really think man’s future is in space. I want to see a “Star Trek” (Gene Roddenberry’s vision, not “millennial strife in space”) reality come to fruition.

I hope at least a few of us always remember to reach for the stars.

Day 3.

Earl and I have been sleeping on an air mattress since closing on the condo on Wednesday morning. Our new mattress doesn’t arrive until Monday; the other pieces arrived yesterday but the mattress is trailing along. It’s fine and sleeping on the air mattress isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

It was about 10:30 PM of the night we moved in when we discovered that the washing machine in our condo has some really bad bearings. The washer works fine but it sounds much like the Space Shuttle at take-off when it’s spinning. Earl and I walked the length of the building during the spin cycle and you can hear our washing spinning from one end of the building to the other.

What a great way to impress our new neighbors.

Tonight we ordered a new washer and matching dryer at The Home Depot. The units will be delivered on Thursday; we’ll limit our laundry activities to daylight hours in the meanwhile.

We have been living the “big city life” since starting the move in on Wednesday and every minute has been pure bliss. I love being able to walk where I need to go. I love having things to do within walking distance. Earl and I are slowly exploring the nooks and crannies of our neighborhood and we’ve been visiting some places in nearby neighborhoods as well. Yesterday we experienced Illinois’ version of the DMV. The Jeeps have new license plates but the driver licenses will have to wait until our next attempt of such an adventure, which will probably take place in a couple of weeks. Luckily, Illinois gives us 90 days to transfer our driver’s license.

Three days in Chicago has taken me away from social media a bit and honestly that’s a wonderful thing. When living in Central New York we often turned to social media for entertainment. There’s just so much to do in The Windy City that I’m finding that I don’t turn to Twitter to see what chaos is happening in the world. I’ve been keeping friends and family updated on Facebook with an update here and there. I’m still not a fan of Facebook but because so many folks are using it, it’s the easiest way to reach out to family and friends. I keep trying to drive them to the blog but having a blog seems so 2001.

By the way, this blog turned 16 years old this week. I’ve been updating this blog since 2001, when I first wrote about flying with my Dad in his Acrosport II for the first time and going to the Field Days (town carnival) in my hometown.

My blog was on the leading edge in 2001. In 2017 it definitely feels like it’s on the trailing edge. Why march in step with the crowd when you hear a completely different song?

Siri.

Apple has released a new extended ad starring Dwayne Johnson featuring all the things Siri can do. I know that Siri gets a bad rap in the tech community, with many touting that Alexa and Google Home can do much more, but I’m still a fan of Siri. She doesn’t want to sell me anything, she just wants to help.

Living Unconnected.

Speaker Simon Sinek speaks about the benefits of turning your phone off and putting it completely away when you’re interacting with people in real life. I need to do this more. I need to be better at this. This is my July 30 day self-challenge.

Dynamite.

In January 1977 we entered room 205 for another Monday of third grade and found a substitute teacher sitting behind the desk. Mrs. Delaney, our regular teacher, would be out sick for the following five weeks as she recovered from emergency gall bladder surgery. Even at age 9 I found this a little surprising since Mrs. Delaney was a young woman. Young pretty teachers don’t get sick. Old people have problems with their gall bladder. She was recently married, in fact, before our class had begun in September she was known as Miss Heilig. She was a pretty blonde woman and she had a tolerance of my odd ways. She accepted the fact that I would speed through every piece of homework and exam at warp speed. She never scolded me for turning in my paper first. She couldn’t figure out why I added numbers the way I did but it worked and she let me do it that way.

Quick aside: posed with a question like “8+7”, I would adjust it to a 10 before blurting out “15”. So in little competitive games to see who could add the fastest, she would say “8+7” and I would yell out “8+7, 9+6, 10+5, 15”. This would bewilder my competitor and while they were trying to count sticks in their head or whatever, I was whipping through this rapid, machine-gun way of adding and I would win a chocolate bar. That was always nifty. This trend sticks with me today.

Anyway, Mrs. Delaney was out sick and behind the desk sat Mrs. Davis. She wore a dress. Her old lady hair was quite red with some help and in the perfect old lady style. Though she retired many years ago she had a reputation throughout the district, young and old, as a taskmistress. She put up with no bunk. She did not tolerate a lack of obedience. Students will keep their desks neat and tidy. Mrs. Delaney had an unused paddle emblazoned with “Board of Education” hanging alongside the chalk board. Mrs. Davis didn’t need such a thing, she just slammed the ruler down if there was any sort of lack of attention. WAP! Even the most misbehaved boy in our class, another boy named John, who in later years would spend some time in prison, wept at the thought of Mrs. Davis teaching for an undetermined amount of time. I just did what I was told.

Mrs. Davis was known as “Dynamite Davis”. The woman could explode. She had a raspy yell that garnered the attention of people within a five mile radius. Even my dad and aunt talked about Dynamite Davis and they had been out of school for many years. The woman was a local legend.

I ran into Dynamite Davis years after I graduated from high school and had a pleasant conversation with her on a Sunday evening in a local restaurant. In elementary school she terrified me (but inspired me to stay the honor student I was at the time) and she was no nonsense but like Mrs. Delaney, she rode with me on my little idiosyncrasies and encouraged me to do what I needed to do to get to the right answer. She never scolded me for being the first one to turn in an exam or quiz. She had a hard look and a scary voice but she was alright. When we chatted years later she remembered me, my aunt and my dad and she had a nice old-lady smile. Like many teachers, she remembered details. “You always watched that clock.”

Inexplicably I enjoyed a very vivid dream about her last night. Like many of my dreams of people that have passed on, it felt uncannily real, she encouraged me to continue to do my best and smirked about the way I still add in my head. (The 8+7, 9+6, 10+5 15 routine drives Earl crazy). We had a normal conversation. I could smell her perfume. Her voice had softened slightly. She told me she doesn’t understand what schools are doing today with our youth and that we need to get back to a more disciplined environment in school districts. I asked her if we could take a selfie together so I could show the community that she is quite happy on The Other Side. She agreed, we laughed, we posed together and of course I couldn’t get my iPhone to work. That always happens when I try to take a selfie in a dream.

I woke up with my iPhone in my hand, camera activated. I was still smiling. The scent of Dynamite’s perfume was dissipating rapidly.

Who knew that the famous Dynamite Davis could make me smile?

Disassembly.

One of the first things I needed to do to prepare the house for our move is remove the school clock collection from the walls.


I was a bit hesitant to do this as I didn’t remember how many holes had been drilled to get the wiring to the clocks.


No two clocks in the collection are identical. Look carefully.


Most of the clocks are moving with us. Those that don’t move will be relocated to good homes where I know they’ll be well taken care of. 


I’m really excited about this next step in our adventure together.

Future.

Image courtesy of Corning Glass Presentation, “A Day Made of Glass”.
I have gotten in the habit of watching something on my iPad while I watch my teeth. I do this because it takes a few minutes to watch something and the result is that I end up brushing my teeth for a longer period of time, which is good for oral hygiene.

While Apple wants us to do all of our media consumption on our iPad, iPhone or Apple TV (with a smattering of Apple Watch thrown in), the truth of the matter is that I want us to have the tech right now that lets us consume media wherever we can consume it. For example, I want to be able to watch a video or catch up on my work schedule or whatever while I’m brushing my teeth. Corning Glass is on the right track with the concept of a “connected bathroom”; the processing power lives in your tablet but glass surfaces, mirrors, etc., all with embedded displays, can display the data.

This is wicked cool to me.

If you look closely at the graphics on the mirror in the photo above, you’ll see there is calendar information, weather, a thermostat control for the bathroom and controls to run the shower. Apparently there’s also a remote control for a Smart coffeemaker. 

With the Internet of Things explosion of the past couple of years, we have all of this today. Nest thermostats allow us to control the room temperature remotely. Calendars on a myriad of devices. I’m not sure about electronic temperature control for showers but I’m sure there are smart energy use devices out there that have this functionality and the same goes for controlling your coffee pot remotely. The problem is that all of this technology is disorganized. Everyone (Apple, Amazon, Google, Nest, etc.) are building ecosystems that sort of talk to each other but there’s a lot of friction in building an intermediary to get everything to talk to each other.

This is not going to help this technology go mainstream.

I want all of my technology to talk to each other, seamlessly without bickering as to who’s ecosystem I’m using, and I want data displayed on touch-enabled glass services. I’ve been telling Earl that as we ready for the move to Chicago, I want our new home to be as high tech as possible. Finding an ecosystem for our tech investment should not be a laborious process. If the new home already has a Nest, I want various modes of input, whether it be Siri or a touchscreen or Amazon’s Alexa, to be able to talk to that Nest. This habit of putting things in silos is crazy. It’s like buying a new washing machine and realizing that the water outlet on the wall is incompatible with the hoses that feed the washer. We wouldn’t put up with that.

Why do we put up with all of these differing standards when it comes to equipping our home with the latest in automation technology?

Now, to go find that touchscreen mirror for the bathroom.

Collection.

So on November 22, 1986, I wrote a check to Ames Department Store for $9.30. There’s a reason that I know this. Earl and I moved into our current home in December 2003. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that today I would come across my cancelled checks from when I was in college in 1986?

There’s a lot I could tell you about the computer printed data, or “franking”, on the back of the pictured check. Some of the data shown would never pass the privacy concern tests of today.

It Just Works, Part 2.

I really miss the days of Steve Jobs at Apple. While Apple is still the leader in the quality of hardware products, their Internet services can be a struggle at times.

I’m trying to manage my Apple ID two-factor authentication settings this morning. The resulting webpage looks like this.